Good News, 03.24.2011

Friends:

Why do we rush about looking for God – who is here at home with us, if all we want is to be with God? Let us fly to our beloved homeland – from the noise that is around us to the joys that are silent. St. Augustine

Susanna El Mogazi invites you to bring clothes and shoes for the relief of Tsunami victims in Japan to Peace this Saturday, from 9 – 12 or with you to church on Sunday. All sizes are needed. If you can help her transport these items please let her know. There will be a Packing Party at her home on Sunday afternoon April 10 – time to be announced.

The Soul / Food: Earth, Faith and Food Project invites you to attend the next meeting with Rebecca Calahan Klein on Thursday, March 31 at 7:00 pm at Peace. Help us decide how the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) project can be most effective in providing organic food for the families in our Interfaith Community and those living in poverty in our county.

Several weeks ago, my friend Tony Hall told me he felt called to a period of fasting in response to the budget debate that now dominates Congress. I have decided to join Tony—a former member of Congress who now leads the Alliance to End Hunger—in a one-week, water-only fast. I will begin March 28. I invite you to turn to God in fasting and prayer during these weeks before Easter. If you choose to fast—for a week or until Easter—do it in a way that’s right for you. What’s important is that we invite our loving God more fully into our lives and into the life of our nation. The debate about the federal budget is really a debate about national priorities, so we invite God to reshape our personal priorities and the priorities of our nation. Your calls and emails to Congress are a welcomed part of this fast. (David Beckman, President of Bread for the World)

This Sunday we will have a Healing Prayer Service – a time to release the burdens which are too heavy to bear. Invite friends to join you for this service of strengthening and peace.

April is JAM (Jazz Appreciation Month). We will have two additional Jazz Events in April to celebrate JAM. Keith Hines of KCSM Radio will host the Saturday, April 2nd event with EW Wainwright and the African Roots performing “The Social Evolution of Jazz”. Hear the whole evolutionary history of jazz in one evening! Our favorite harpist Destiny Muhammed will be performing that evening as well. Pete Yellin performs for Jazz at Peace on April 10th at 5 pm. Clifford Brown, III performs with his Brewing Company on Saturday, April 30th. The Saturday events are both at 7:30 pm.

Please join us on Wednesday evenings throughout Lent at 6:30 for Soup and Sacrament. Our focus is Jonah: The Comedy of Forgiveness. You will discover yourself laughing at things you never thought funny before.

How is your Unplugging from Technology going? Are you able to slow down, have dinner with friends, enjoy strolls in nature, breathe more easily? Aren’t Lenten disciplines demanding?!

“The wind moves wherever she pleases, you hear the sound but you don’t know from whence or to where the wind is flowing……..and so it is with everyone who is birthed in the Spirit.” – Jesus

Lenten Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 03.17.2011

Friends:

I am the one whose praise echoes on high.
I adorn all the earth.
I am the breeze that nurtures all things green.
I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.
I am led by the spirit to feed the purest streams.
I am the rain coming from the dew
That causes the grasses to laugh with the joy of life.
I am the yearning for good.  (The Greening God,  Hildegard von Bingen)

Lent means Spring and to encourage our Greening like the Spring our Soup and Sacrament Series (6:30 on Wednesdays) will focus on Jonah:  The Comedy of Forgiveness.  With the overwhelming news in Japan, northern Africa, Haiti and the US Midwest it is clear “our little systems have their day….and cease to be” (see the poem at the end of the Good News).  The centering and confidence of our lives must be anchored in the One to whom time and space, life and death belong.  Feel like you’re trapped in the belly of a whale?   Join us for some refreshing hilarity and insights on the next 5 Wednesdays.

A Healing Prayer Conference held this past weekend was initiated by our friend and mentor Rev. Francis Geddes.  At last his book Contemplative Healing has been published.  We will have a healing prayer service at Peace on March 27th.   We will have a Book Signing Party with Fran at Peace sometime in the not too distant future.

Mudzunga Farisani and daughters Nzumbu and Ndamu have arrived home safely.  Mudzunga sent word of her appreciation for all the love and prayers they received at Peace.   She looks forward to the Peace Delegation who will travel to Beuster Parish for the Dedication of their new church in October of 2012.  Our thanks to the Partnership Committee, Karl Pfieffer, Chair for their continued support of this ministry at Peace.

The Sound Board has been revamped and is now working perfectly thanks to Josh Camacho.  New devices for the hearing impaired will arrive soon.  Please let me know if you sit in a spot where amplified sound is not heard well.

Please keep in your prayers: Emily (Linda Hall’s mother), Randy and DeeAnn, Annie, Ralph, John Dahlin, Richard Howell, Bob, Sheila, the tsunami and nuclear reactor victims of Japan, all those advocating for democracy in the Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria; for the people of Haiti that they might have elections and a government of their choosing; for the people of Wisconsin and the 16 Midwest States advocating for their livelihoods, the 7 imprisoned Baha’i leaders in Tehran, and our Confirmation Class.

A proposal to create a rotating Spiritual Art Exhibit among several Interfaith Congregations of I-SRV is being examined.  If you want to be an advocate for more of the visual arts at Peace please contact me.

Soul / Food:  Earth, Faith and Food – the next meeting with Rebecca Calahan Klein regarding our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) project will be at Peace on Thursday, March 31 at 7:00 pm.  All interested members are invited to attend.

A disturbing statistical Note: In 2009 U.S. health care spending grew by 4%;  yet health insurance premiums in California are set to increase in 2011 by 39% – 59%.

International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8th – marking its 100th Anniversary.  Here are two reasons the celebration and work must continue:  1)  In Egypt – not one woman was named to the national committee writing the new Egyptian Constitution, despite the essential role women played in the protests that led to President Mubarak’s resignation.

And 2)  Rev. Dr. Elaine Neuenfeldt, the secretary of the LWF Women in Church and Society Program delivered a statement at a UN Member States expert panel discussion on science and technology. She expressed the need for, “women and girls to fulfill the needs that they identify at all levels of science and technology research and development.”  Neuenfeldt shared a story of illiterate Mauritanian women from poor communities. Through the support of the LWF’s Department for World Service, the women received training to be women engineers and set up a solar electric system for their rural communities. The new access to solar technology has since provided power for lighting, mobile technology and other electronic devices. This unique “best practice” of empowering the women from rural areas is an example of how opportunities can be created for women and girls to access science and technology that transforms communities.

Our thanks to Sue Field for the gift of a new piano to Peace!

Jazz at Peace will have 3 Special Events  in April for JAM (Jazz Appreciation Month).  On Saturday,  April 2 at 7:30 pm:  The Social Evolution of Jazz with EW Wainwright and African Roots. You will get to hear the entire musical history of jazz.  April 10 at 5 pm the Jazz Church West will host Pete Yellin.  On Saturday, April 30 at 7:30 pm Clifford Brown, III and his Brewing Company will perform their magic.  Tickets for April 2 and 30 are $10/person or $25/family.  These are all incredible opportunities for inspiration.  Please invite friends to join you.  (No one present this past Sunday will ever forget the Paul Scheffert jazz of this past Sunday!!)

Please complete the Memorial Garden/Columbarium Surveys of Interest and bring them to church this Sunday.

“Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be;
They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.

We have but faith:  we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see;
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness:  let it grow.

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,

But vaster.”

( from Tennyson’s “In Memoriam”)

Lenten Blessings,  Pr. Steve

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The homily from this past Sunday, March 13, is now available online for your listening and soul’s pleasure. You may listen or download the this and past sermons by going to the audio sermons online section.

Good News, 3.11.2011

Friends:

Here is the struggle no human presumes to picture….no one wants to face:
In our living and dying – how shall we be rescued from endless dark Shadow?
How break through the coldness of earth and stone, the hardheartedness of a faithless world?

How shall we birth breath and heartbeat to walk this world with joy and freedom and dignity….A world filled with open wounds and anguish?

The Spirit streamed through every cell of Christ’s body (the Transfiguration tells us);
If mortal sight could bear to perceive it, we would see His mortal flesh was lit from within.

And he is aching to bring us home …..in the company of friends and the mystery of ourselves.

A second piano was received as a gift from Sue Field this past Sunday. It offers additional musical opportunities. We are thankful.

The Transfiguration painting in honor of Judy Collins was also unveiled. Our thanks to the Collins Family here and across the country who have blessed Peace with this gift. We pray it will be a light pointing to the Light.

Members of the Healing Prayer Team will be attending a Healing Prayer Conference this weekend which is initiated and sponsored by our good friend and mentor Rev. Francis Geddes. Pr. Margareta and I will be presenting a workshop on Healing Prayer in Congregational Life.

The Archives Committee will meet this Thursday at 1:15 pm.

Congratulations to Betty and Ted Schwann on their 67th Wedding Anniversary! And to Lois and Bob McGee on their 57th Wedding Anniversary!

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 03.03.2011

Friends:

I was thinking how often and how many of us feel unloved, and unwanted on many occasions during our lives – all the misunderstandings there are in families, even between husband and wife. We all want heaven here and now, no patience, no waiting. Don’t think I don’t understand how you feel, because I have felt the same many a time. How many times I have felt even a wall of hatred and resentment around me – sometimes over little things and also over the big ones…..sometimes I never want to see people again. But then I remember St. John of the Cross saying, ‘Where there is no love, put love, and you will find love.’ And I can breathe again. When it comes down to it, even on the natural plane, it is much happier and more enlivening to love than be loved. Dorothy Day

A blessing to have had Mudzunga, Nzumbu and Ndamu Farisani with us this past Sunday. Mudzunga is encouraging all of us to participate in a Delegation to attend the Dedication of the new church at Beuster – probably in 2012! Partnership Ministry can seem a baffling proposition until the heart to heart connection of our faith reveals our common humanity and what we are capable of together. We need each other more than we can comprehend. We will continue to share our prayers and stories and grow in the faith which is mutually ours. Keep the people of Lwamondo Parish in Venda, South Africa and Laurel Galan, Nicaragua in your prayers.

Karl and Grace Pfeiffer hosted a wonderful Partnership Meal with the Farisanis on Tuesday evening. You will be learning about future ways to nourish our ministries together in future weeks and months. All of you would have enjoyed Natalie’s table prayer!

The Crab Feast is this Saturday at 5 pm. Thanks to Julie and Robert for coordinating this annual tradition, to Michael Valenta for his kitchen magic, to all who are volunteering – the youth and otherwise, and to Mark and Lisa for organizing the Silent Auction. More Silent Auction gifts are welcomed!! This year we will also have beautiful music to accompany your dining pleasure. Bring your friends to this tasty celebration!

You can expect Two Special Surprises on Sunday – just in time for Transfiguration. Look for them.

Ash Wednesday worship will be at 7:30 pm on March 9th. This service will initiate the season of Lent.

Tamara Bohlin, our occasional guest cellist, invites you to a Gold Coast Chamber Players Concert on Sunday at 2 pm at the Community Hall: Lafayette Library. A flier is posted on our Kiosk.

Happy Birthday to John McVicar who recently celebrated his 91st birthday. Many blessings, John!

Hopefully you have no more worries after last Sunday’s worship. Keep gazing on the blossoms.

Epiphany Blessings, Pr. Steve

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Pastor Steve’s homily from this past Sunday, February 27, is now available online for your listening and soul’s pleasure. You may listen or download the this and past sermons by going to the audio sermons online section.